If you could change something in the past, would you? If so, how would you know the consequences of that change? Aporia from director Jared Moshé, takes us into a world that makes us doubt we could handle such changes.
Sophie (Judy Greer) is mourning the death of her husband who was killed by a drunk driver. She juggles work and trying to deal with her daughter, Riley, who has her own grief issues that are playing out badly. Her husband’s best friend, Jabir (Payman Maadi), tells her that he and her husband had been working on a machine that could affect the past. He has it ready. He refers to it as being able to send a bullet into the past. He offers to send such a bullet back to kill the man who had killed her husband before the accident—thereby saving her husband’s life.
Sure enough, Mal (Edi Gathegi) is alive and suddenly the world is back as it was. Because they had been present when the bullet was shot, Sophie and Jabir know the history that is no longer. Mal and Riley only have the history of the changed reality. All is right with the world—except for some minor changes at Sophie’s job. But things will adapt and the family will be happy again.
But Sophie begins to wonder about the widow of the man they killed. What happened to her life? Sophie discovers that her happiness had a cost in someone else’s life. She, Mal, and Jabir seek to find a way to help the woman by sending another bullet into the past. Again, things seem to work out, but there are other repercussions—the world has changed in ways that they don’t know how to deal with—especially when they next find Riley. Can it be fixed?
This is a story about determinism—the idea that the way things happen are fixed. (In some Christian traditions, this translates into the doctrine of predestination.) The twist here is that by firing the time bullets, Jabir, Sophie, and Mal are creating new timelines. Those who are present for the bullets being fired, know what has changed, but to the rest of the world, the new timelines are reality. But what ramifications come with each change? How many different things are affected? Can any of the changes be undone?
Sophie serves as the emotional center of the film. She is a caring mother and friend. She wants the world to be a place of happiness and fulfillment. But she also discovers that each change brings unintended consequences. In times, those consequences become too much to bear.
The determinism that is so central to the story may seem to be malleable but, in reality, it is very strict determinism. Once a change happens, that timeline becomes fixed. Try as we might, we can’t change what happened there. Free will is often seen as the opposite of determinism. But here, the free will of the characters only becomes a new force in destiny.
Aporia is in select theaters.
Photos courtesy of Well Go USA.